Nikola Motors Steals Tesla's First Name, Wants To Build Clean Semis
11 May 2016 - Autoblog
With Tesla Motors pretty much cornering the market on public perception of what an electric car should be, a new EV company with a conveniently connected name is ready to stake its claim in two other vehicle types.
Nikola Motor Company came out of stealth mode today with a fresh website that talks about two plug-in vehicle projects: a natural gas-electric hybrid semi truck called the Nikola One and an all-electric 4x4 UTV called the Nikola Zero. We can't wait for the next offering, the Nikola Model 3.
As I suspect most readers will know, the name Nikola comes from inventor Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), who is also posthumously lending his name to that one company Elon Musk is running. While the names are an obvious connecting thread, the Nikola Motor Company will not be competing with Tesla Motors, unless Tesla decides to get into the $375,000 electric semi game. Oh, right, the Nikola One is a $375,000 electric semi.
But it's not all-electric. On top of a 320-kWh battery pack, the 2,000-horsepower Nikola One will have a fuel-agnostic turbine (the standard model will have a natural gas tank) that sends power to the battery. Nikola says that its truck will be able to operate at half the cost per mile of today's diesel trucks. With a full tank of 150 gallons of natural gas, the Nikola One will supposedly be able to go 1,200 miles before fill-ups. And, for the first 5,000 reservations (yeah, Nikola Motors is accepting refundable reservations as of today – $1,500 for the truck and $750 for the UTV), the company will throw in 100,000 gallons of free natural gas at its planned network of CNG stations and company-owned natural gas wells. The 100,000 gallons are enough, Nikola says, for a million work miles.
The Nikola Zero, on the other hand, is all about the fun. A lightweight frame and a 50-kWh battery combine to give this off-roader between 100 and 150 miles of range and 520 hp. With a 14.5-inch ground clearance and 0-60 in under three seconds, the Zero could be a lot of fun one day. Of course, for today these two projects are nothing more than renderings. The company is promising to show off the "first working prototypes" later this year, though. CEO Trevor Milton said in a statement that, "This is just the beginning of what's ahead for America, our company and the electric vehicle market." We shall see.